(I feel thee near to
The loneliness takes life,—As over its world
The Invisible hovers.)
From this state of restlessness and agitation rather than continuous action, Glyndon was aroused by a visitor who seemed to exercise the most salutary influence over him. His sister, an orphan with himself, had resided in the country with her aunt. In the early years of hope and home he had loved this girl, much younger than himself, with all a brother’s tenderness. On his return to England, he had seemed to forget her existence. She recalled herself to him on her aunt’s death by a touching and melancholy letter: she had now no home but his,—no dependence save on his affection; he wept when he read it, and was impatient till Adela arrived.
This girl, then about eighteen, concerned beneath a gentle and calm exterior much of the romance or enthusiasm that had, at her own age, characterised her brother. But her enthusiasm was of a far purer order, and was restrained within proper bounds, partly by the sweetness of a very feminine nature, and partly by a strict and methodical education. She differed from him especially in a timidity of character which exceeded that usual at her age, but which the habit of self-command concealed no less carefully than that timidity itself concealed the romance I have ascribed to her.
Adela was not handsome: she had the complexion and the form of delicate health; and too fine an organisation of the nerves rendered her susceptible to every impression that could influence the health of the frame through the sympathy of the mind. But as she never complained, and as the singular serenity of her manners seemed to betoken an equanimity of temperament which, with the vulgar, might have passed for indifference, her sufferings had so long been borne unnoticed that it ceased to be an effort to disguise them. Though, as I have said, not handsome, her countenance was interesting and pleasing; and there was that caressing kindness, that winning charm about her smile, her manners, her anxiety to please, to comfort, and to soothe which went at once to the heart, and made her lovely,—because so loving.
Such was the sister whom Glyndon had so long neglected, and whom he now so cordially welcomed. Adela had passed many years a victim to the caprices, and a nurse to the maladies, of a selfish and exacting relation. The delicate and generous and respectful affection of her brother was no less new to her than delightful. He took pleasure in the happiness he created; he gradually weaned himself from other society; he felt the charm of home. It is not surprising, then, that this young creature, free and virgin from every more ardent attachment, concentrated all her grateful love on this cherished and protecting relative. Her study by day, her dream by night, was to repay him for his affection. She was proud of his talents, devoted to his welfare; the smallest trifle that could interest him swelled in her eyes to the gravest affairs of life. In short, all the long-hoarded enthusiasm, which was her perilous and only heritage, she invested in this one object of her holy tenderness, her pure ambition.